Phillies

It wasn't just him, but this was a Phillies win that showed Bryce Harper's full value

It wasn't just him, but this was a Phillies win that showed Bryce Harper's full value

A 458-foot, three-run home run on a 98 mph fastball.

A walk-off two-run double against one of baseball's most accomplished closers of the last decade.

This was the kind of night that shows you why Bryce Harper is valued the way he is.

The Phillies were two outs away from yet another game that could have been classified as their worst loss of the season. What was once a five-run lead had turned into a two-run deficit when Hector Neris was victimized again by the Dodgers. This time it was rookie Matt Beaty with a three-run, pinch-hit home run off Neris in the ninth.

Another late-game implosion, especially following Monday's 16-2 embarrassment, would have taken the Phillies to a point even below rock bottom. It would have been another harbinger of doom. One walk-off win does not change the events of the last six weeks, but it does at least show these Phillies that they can beat the Dodgers. They can beat a good closer. They can respond even after the most deflating of circumstances.

"You live for those moments," Harper said. "That's what it's all about. Going in there, Jansen, one of the best closers in all of baseball, Dodgers-Phils. When you're facing the best in baseball, it's always a blast."

Don't get it twisted — they haven't done it enough, the Phillies as a group or Harper as an individual offensive player. This team should be better than 49-46. Harper's OPS should be higher than .850.

But this was the kind of win that can give a team some swagger. The Phillies hit Walker Buehler and they hit Kenley Jansen.

And in a game that was also televised nationally, the Phillies' brightest star delivered in his team's highest-pressure moment in weeks.

"It was a huge moment for Bryce and you could see it coming off the field after everybody was celebrating on the field, how important that was to him," manager Gabe Kapler said. "It meant a lot to him. He was clearly emotional and I understand there had been a lot of buildup that led to that moment. It was quite a release for him."

This felt like Harper's second really big moment with the Phillies, the first being his poetic blast at Nationals Park in his first game back in D.C. But this win went beyond him. The much-maligned Andrew Knapp, who entered with a .155 batting average, began the rally with a double. It came one batter after Adam Haseley hit a ball off Jansen's ankle. After the game, Jansen told Dodgers reporters that if he could have done it again, he would have exited the game.

Prior to Harper's game-winning double, Scott Kingery trimmed the deficit to one with an RBI single. Earlier in the night, Kingery homered on a 96 mph fastball up in the zone from Buehler.

The Phillies as a team have struggled with velocity this season but Tuesday was not an example of that.

"To see Scott go up to the top of the zone and hit 96-plus out to left field, that was pretty impressive because that's been the book on him," Kapler said. "Sliders off the plate away and then you run the heater up because he has such a good plane to his swing that he's good at getting underneath it. When you have a good four-seam fastball, you want to get above his barrel. So that was a really good sign.

"It's encouraging to see our guys catch up to velocity. We all have a lot of respect for Walker Buehler, he's been one of the best pitchers in baseball this year. To put that kind of number up on him says a lot about our club and the grind in our at-bats today.

"After yesterday's loss, how brutal that was for us, and in some ways embarrassing ... nobody quit. I think that's the calling card for our team. We get knocked down, we get back up."

The Phillies have indeed responded well after awful losses this season. They just haven't yet turned it into a prolonged stretch of good baseball.

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American Century Championship 2020: Odds, live stream, TV info, player list, schedule

American Century Championship 2020: Odds, live stream, TV info, player list, schedule

In the 2007 offseason, Jimmy Rollins famously said the Phillies were the “team to beat”. Those comments became the motto that helped catapult the Phillies to five straight postseason appearances, including a 2008 World Series title. Guys like Rollins, Chase Utley and Shane Victorino were a big reason for that success.

Well, the band is back together.

This time they’ll be paired together on the golf course starting Friday at the American Century Championship in Nevada. This is the first time Utley is taking part in the celebrity event. Other first timers include Chiefs quarterback and new $503 million dollar man Patrick Mahomes.

William Hill Sportsbook in Nevada has placed odds on this weekend’s festivities and the trio of former Phillies are not getting much respect. Then again, for most participants this tournament is all fun and games. Utley has odds of 300-1 ($100 wager will pay $30,000) while Victorino is listed at 1500-1 ($100 wager will pay $150,000). Rollins is part of the field at 50-1 ($100 wager will pay $5,000).

American Century Championship TV, live stream and time

Friday: First round coverage -- 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN, NBC Sports app
Saturday: Second round coverage -- 3 p.m. ET on NBC10, NBC Sports app
Sunday: Final round coverage -- 3 p.m. ET on NBC 10, NBC Sports app

Unfortunately, Rollins, Utley and Victorino don’t stand much of a chance against opponents like former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and two-time defending champion of this event Tony Romo. Romo is an excellent NFL broadcaster and highly skilled golfer who has played in four PGA events so it’s no surprise he’s the even money favorite. He also has zero Super Bowl appearances (just stating the facts). Former Cardinals and A’s pitcher and three-time champion of the American Century Championship Mark Mulder is the second choice on the board at 13/5.

Charles Barkley is an annual participant at this weekend’s events. Sir Charles and his awkward golf swing are a long shot with odds of 7500-1. I think it’s safe to say save your money. Nonetheless, this event is always fun seeing all the celebrities having a good time on the links. Who doesn’t like Steph Curry draining 3’s into the boats docked alongside Lake Tahoe?

American Century Championship selected odds (via William Hill Sportsbook)

  • Tony Romo - EVEN
  • Mark Mulder - 13/5
  • Mardy Fish - 15/2
  • John Smoltz - 17/2
  • Stephen Curry - 12/1
  • Derek Lowe - 15/1
  • Aaron Rodgers - 100/1
  • Chase Utley - 300/1
  • Patrick Mahomes - 400/1
  • Roger Clemens - 500/1
  • Oscar De La Hoya - 500/1
  • Shane Victorino - 1500/1
  • Sean Payton - 2000/1
  • James Blake - 3000/1
  • Field - 50/1

American Century Championship first round pairings, tee times

1st tee

  • 1:55 p.m. ET: Oscar De La Hoya, Michael Peña, Kira K. Dixon
  • 2:05 p.m.: Chauncey Billups, Deron Williams, Patrick Peterson
  • 2:15 p.m.: Jerome Bettis, Eddie George, Terrell Davis
  • 2:25 p.m: Mardy Fish, Canelo Álvarez, James Blake
  • 2:35 p.m.: Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Charles Barkley
  • 2:45 p.m.: Steve Young, Anthony Lynn, Mike Vrabel
  • 2:55 p.m.: Cooper Kupp, Adam Thielen, Case Keenum
  • 3:05 p.m.: Stephen Curry, Dell Curry, Aaron Rodgers
  • 3:15 p.m: Tony Romo, Larry Fitzgerald, Jerry Rice
  • 3:25 p.m.: John Smoltz, Greg Maddux, Roger Clemens
  • 3:35 p.m.: Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Shane Victorino
  • 3:45 p.m.: Mark Mulder, Jack Wagner, Derek Lowe

10th tee

  • 1:50 p.m. ET: Doug Flutie, Jim McMahon
  • 2:00 p.m.: Joe Don Rooney, Jay DeMarcus, Bret Baier
  • 2:10 p.m.: Kyle WIlliams, AJ Hawk, Brandon McManus
  • 2:20 p.m.: Reggie Bush, Carson Palmer, Marcus Allen
  • 2:30 p.m.: Joe Buck, Jay Bilas, Vinny Del Negro
  • 2:40 p.m.: Tim Brown, Andre Reed, Ozzie Smith
  • 2:50 p.m.: Eric Weddle, Kyle Fuller, Troy Mullins
  • 3:00 p.m: TIm Wakefield, Kevin Millar, Brian McCann
  • 3:10 p.m.: Miles Teller, Chace Crawford, Kathryn Tappen
  • 3:20 p.m.: Charles Woodson, Kyle Rudolph, DeMarcus Ware
  • 3:30 p.m.: Alfonso Ribeiro, Rob Riggle, Ray Romano
  • 3:40 p.m.: Larry the Cable Guy, Brian Baumgartner, John O'Hurley

Joe Girardi's Phillies lineup is nearly set, except for one outfield question mark

Joe Girardi's Phillies lineup is nearly set, except for one outfield question mark

The start of the Phillies' abbreviated 2020 season is two weeks away, and manager Joe Girardi has a pretty good idea of what his team's Opening Day defensive alignment will look like.  

J.T. Realmuto will be behind the plate, presumably catching Aaron Nola. Jean Segura will likely be the starting third baseman, next to new shortstop Didi Gregorius. Now healthy after a wicked bout with COVID-19, Scott Kingery projects as the starting second baseman. Rhys Hoskins will play first base. Andrew McCutchen and Bryce Harper are locked in at the corner outfield spots. 

That leaves center field as the only position up for grabs. 

Second-year player Adam Haseley and fourth-year veteran Roman Quinn are the primary candidates. 

The 24-year old Haseley was the 8th overall pick of the 2017 MLB draft and quickly climbed through the Phillies minor league system. He played 67 games last season as a rookie and showed flashes of being a productive big league outfielder, hitting .266 with 14 doubles, five home runs, and 26 RBI. He also made a handful of spectacular defensive plays.

Quinn, 27, has long tantalized the front office and fans alike with his immense talent. His blazing speed makes him a weapon on the basepaths and allows him to cover a ton of ground in the outfield. He also has a fair amount of pop, collecting 20 extra-base hits in 139 at-bats the last two seasons. But injuries have been a common theme throughout Quinn's professional career. He's never been able to stay healthy long enough to show what he's capable of over the course of a full season. 

Quinn and Haseley competed for the center field job during spring training in Clearwater and will continue to do so over the next two weeks of training camp at Citizens Bank Park. The manager isn't in a rush to name a starter.

"My mind is really open with that spot," Girardi told NBC Sports Philadelphia's Michael Barkann earlier this week. "If one guy emerges, it's one guy. If it's a platoon, it's a platoon. If one guy plays more than the other, we have that.

"The big thing is we get production out of center field, that's what I'm looking for. And that doesn't necessarily mean home runs, it could mean getting on base and scoring runs and a lot of different things including really good defense. I'm just going to let it play out and see who rises to the top here." 

Whoever plays center field will likely be hitting towards the bottom of the batting order. There won't be a ton of pressure to put up big offensive numbers. 

There is one other possibility to consider when it comes to the center field situation: Odubel Herrera.

The 28-year old Herrera isn't currently on the Phillies' 60-man summer camp roster, but he could be added at any point. GM Matt Klentak didn't rule out that scenario last week. 

On Thursday's 'Phillies Return to Play' show, NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury indicated Herrera could still be an option if neither Haseley or Quinn play well enough to claim the job. 

There are a lot of question marks at the moment when it comes to the Phillies' center field job. Girardi is hopeful one of the candidates will step up over the next couple of weeks and provide some answers.

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